Ajay Devgn is possibly the expressive actor in Bollywood. His eyes can make you fall in Love with him when he wants to and scare you at the same time when he’s playing a negative role or has a grey shade to his character. He’s all set to star in a film that is based on a true story ‘RAID’ where he’s paired with Illeana D’Cruz in this Raj Kumar Gupta directorial. Shot in real locations and local actors, this Indian crime drama is based on the story of how an income tax officer raided a politician’s home where it was impossible to extract out the hidden black money. Saurabh Shukla plays the politician.
After starring in last year’s most comical film ‘Golmaal’, Ajay returns to what he does best, ‘Drama’. We chatted with the Man himself and here’s what we found out:
Q. Did you meet the real life income tax officer who conducted this RAID?
Ajay Devgn: Yes, I met him and it wasn’t just about the person but also about how he was and the honesty and morals he stood for. He did the Raid at a time when no one would. It is an interesting story to narrate.
Q. There was a lot of involvement with regards to this film from your end. Would you take the credit for the film being finally made?
Ajay Devgn: The person whose story it was, narrated the story as it was. We decided to do the film then. Raj (director) wrote the first half and then Ritesh (Shah – writer) came onboard and took the story forward. I can’t take credit for this effort.
Q. How was it working with Raid’s director Raj Kumar Gupta? Did you give your inputs to the story?
Ajay Devgn: A tuning and understanding builds with any director when you work on a film. Raj (Kumar Gupta) is a very sensible directorial and understands what the person opposite is trying to convey. A film is always a teamwork and according to my understanding, I give my inputs.
Q. How did the film come in existence? It is difficult to get all the elements right and close to the true incident. How did you manage to do that?
Ajay Devgn: When I heard about the true incident I thought of making a film on this. There was no screenplay at the time and then we started working on it. It was very fascinating. When you see the film, you come to know there were many layers to it and we really enjoyed it. We all decided jointly that we should make this film.
I’ve known of this script for the last 3-4 years. It is important to get the precision right for making such a film. When Ritesh polished the script completely, that’s when we decided to make it.
Q. There are lot of scams that have come in the forefront just like the subject your film deals with. What is your take on that?
Ajay Devgn: Scams keep happening and it’s the media due to whom these issues are coming in front more often than before. Lot of people don’t even know of the scams that happened between 80s and 90s. Economic offense has always been there.
Q. How do you try and make social message driven films interesting?
Ajay Devgn: Films are all about entertaining the audiences. Entertainment is not just making them laugh, it’s about getting the audiences involved in the film. It’s about getting into a film, watching it and coming out thinking it was all worth it. If you can put in a social message into it that would be great.
Q. Since your career in the 90s, have you noticed any changes in the audiences who watch your films?
Ajay Devgn: Not just the audiences but we are changing as well. The change is universal with all type of audiences. There is a lot of exposure through news and internet. People have started watching world cinema and are exposed to a lot of content. Even the watchmen of my home watch content on their phones through the net. They’re evolving for sure and we as makers are also getting confident with our products. Even Golmaal is entertaining and of its own genre, it’s difficult for a good film not to work.
Q. What do you have to say about the post production phase of a film?
Ajay Devgn: Trailers change a movie but the promotions are equivalent to a hit and run case, if you do it rightly and create a hype, you’ll be able to earn during the weekend and by the time the audiences realize the film is bad by Monday, the maker must have earned enough.
Q. With so much content being made on so many platforms, do you think movies have a tough competition?
Ajay Devgn: Yes there is a bit of competition. It is important to make films that are worth being enjoyed at the theatre. The scale has enlarged.
Q. The locations were real, didn’t you have a problem shooting around so many people?
Ajay Devgn: Yes we shot in real locations but the onlookers didn’t disturb us much. We also shot at distant locations from the city. It was an easy shoot.
Q. Would you do a webseries or a television show?
Ajay Devgn: If I get a good script I’ll do it. When you feel like doing a script, you’ll do it and not just for the heck of it. The content has to be exciting and television has definitely grown.
Q. How was is working with Illeana for the second time?
Ajay Devgn: Ileana is a very sweet girl. She’s playing a very strong character. There’s a dialogue too in the promo that says, ‘Wives of an officer have to be more braver’. She’s a character that gives my character enough support and push.
Q. How was it working with Saurabh Shukla?
Ajay Devgn: I’ve worked with Saurabh Shukla earlier but the extent wasn’t as big as it was this time. He’s a great actor. The conflict was very interesting. The scenes that we share have a humorous touch.
Q. Any memorable dialogue from the film that you take away?
Ajay Devgn: The dialogues have been written very well by Ritesh. The ‘sasural’ dialogue is an interesting one.
Q. Which genre would you love yourself doing?
Ajay Devgn: I’ve done a Golmaal, social good doer in this one and would love to play a negative shade.
Q. What do we get to see first, the sequel of Singham or Golmaal?
Ajay Devgn: Singham 3 will happen before the next installment of Golmaal.
Q. What are your favourite songs from the film?
Ajay Devgn: The songs in the film are beautiful. There are two songs by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I like the background songs that are explaining the narrative.
Q. What’s your take on critics of your films?
Ajay Devgn: Every audience is technically a reviewer. There are a handful of the genuine ones left. Everyone has become a self proclaimed reviewer, it’s hard to know which ones you’re ought to follow.
Q. In the 80s we saw a lot of two hero films and you’ve been doing the same too. But why do we see only a few such films?
Ajay Devgn: I think a lot of actors hesitate in doing a two hero film. It’s also difficult getting two actors together.
Q. The box office is seeing an issue with release dates where a lot of films clash. Also Hollywood films are being enjoyed more by the Indian audiences. The threat to film comes more from Bollywood or Hollywood?
Ajay Devgn: The threat comes from both competitive Bollywood and Hollywood movies.
Q. What are you very confident about in this film?
Ajay Devgn: The whole story, the incident and the character that im playing. The story had to be told.
Q. Is there any genre you’re most comfortable doing?
Ajay Devgn: An actor has to be comfortable doing any kind of genre. If you can’t do it all, then you aren’t an actor.